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November 26, 2015 / 14 Kislev, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

Israel Weighs Suing EU Over Settlement Product Labeling

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

(JNi.media) The Israeli government is considering filing a lawsuit with the World Trade Organization against the European Union, in response to the latter’s decision to mark Israeli products originating in the settlements at retail chains in Europe. A senior Israeli official told Ha’aretz that the push for a suit comes from Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan and Minister of Justice Ayelet Shaked. The move is opposed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of the Economy.

Shaked and Erdan met recently to coordinate the promotion of their move in the cabinet. According to Ha’aretz, the two agreed on hiring a major international legal firm specializing in international trade to make a recommendation regarding the feasibility of a WTO suit and the chances of success.

According to Ha’aretz, senior officials in the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of the Economy say that chances for the success of such a move against the EU are very low and may cause more harm than good. They argue the move could cause a counter-mobilization of Arab countries against Israel at the WTO, and to end up with a decision making the products from the settlements illegal according to international law, which would mean they must be seized, not only labeled. A Foreign Ministry official said the move was one of those things that you “know how to get into, but not how to get out.”

International law professors Avi Bell of Bar Ilan University and Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University have written a position paper urging the filing of a lawsuit against the EU, and met with Shaked and Arden. Both have argued that one of the main principles of the WTO is no discrimination between member countries. Bell and Kontorovich say the EU decided to select products from the settlements for labeling, but isn’t labeling products from other conflict areas in the world where there is an occupation or a territorial dispute, such as the Moroccan Sahara products or products from the Turkish occupied area of Cyprus.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that cosmetics company Ahava has manages to get around the labeling for the time being, arguing that although its main factory is located at Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem in Judea, most of the raw materials come from the parts of the Dead Sea that are within 1949 Israel; also, it argues that not all its products are manufactured in that main factory.

Hezbollah Not a Terror Group, Says Russia

Monday, November 16th, 2015

Russia does not consider Hezbollah to be a terrorist organization, according to Moscow’s deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Bogdanov.

The official was quoted Sunday by the Interfax news agency as he explained that Russia maintains ties with the group.

“Some say Hezbollah is a terrorist organization,” Bogdanov said. “We maintain contacts and relations with them because we do not consider them a terrorist organization.

“They have never committed any terrorist acts on Russian soil. Hezbollah was elected by Lebanese citizens to the Lebanese parliament. There are cabinet members and ministers from Hezbollah in Lebanon. It is a legitimate sociopolitical force.”

The remarks emerged during discussions on Saturday between nations discussing which groups fighting the Syrian civil war should be defined as terrorists or not. The question arose and to which groups should be invited to negotiate for a political settlement, but differences remain between the views of Moscow and Washington.

Participants at the talks on Syria, held in Vienna, appointed Jordan as coordinator of efforts to compile a list of terrorist groups. Although both the United States and the European Union have designated Hezbollah as a terrorist organization — as has Israel — Russia does not.

The unwillingness of Russia to acknowledge Hezbollah’s terrorist status is likely to impact any international effort to address the group’s terrorist activities and attacks on Israel or anywhere else.

Hezbollah has also in the past been reportedly involved in drug sales operations that cross Israel’s northern border and elsewhere in the world as well.

Ya’alon Urges EU to Intensify Anti-Terror Measures

Sunday, November 15th, 2015

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon warned Sunday that Europe must intensify its anti-terror efforts if it is to combat threats like Da’esh (ISIS).

In an interview with Galei Tzahal Army Radio, Ya’alon urged the member states in the European Union to pass laws that would “enable a more effective battle against terrorism.”

The recommendation came in the wake of the multi-site mass casualty attack in Paris carried out Friday night against France by Da’esh, which cost the lives of at least 129 people. More than 350 others were wounded, including 99 who remain in critical condition. Among the wounded are U.S. and British citizens, officials said.

“The Europeans understand that there is a threat, but they have not taken the measures they could have; for example, changing the legislation to allow listening in on potential terrorists,” Ya’alon pointed out.

“The balance between security and human rights in Europe so far has been tipped in favor of human rights,” he added, “but now there is no longer a choice. From now on, more weight must be given to the considerations of security, in order to defend democracy,” he said.

Ya’alon recommended checks at the entrances to public places, and increased passport controls throughout Europe as basic security measures for officials to put into place. He also noted that it is important to “bridge the gap in Turkey” with regard to the corridor used by Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists as they pass in and out of Syria.

The route to Europe and elsewhere in the world from ISIS-held territories runs across the Syrian border directly into Turkey, and from there onward to the rest of the world.

“We are all in the same boat when it comes to fighting terrorism and defending Western civilization,” Ya’alon said.

International Law Expert Kontorovich: EU Breaking EU Laws Against Product Labeling

Friday, November 13th, 2015

(JNi.media) Eugene Kontorovich, a legal scholar whose specialties include international law, on Friday published an op-ed in the NY Times that could stir up a backlash over in Brussels. Titled, “Europe Mislabels Israel,” Kontorovich’s piece rebukes the EU Commission for breaking EU laws in its zeal to attack the Jewish State.

“Diplomats in Brussels and NGOs have made clear that more coercive measures will follow,” Kontorovich writes, suggesting the EU has initiated a “process of building a legal ghetto around Israel, within which a special set of rules applies.”

“The European Union allows Morocco — which has extensive trade ties with Europe, but has occupied Western Sahara since 1975, and populated it heavily with settlers — to export products from its occupied territory labeled ‘Made in Morocco,’” Kontorovich notes, pointing out that, “when challenged, the commission formally declared that labeling such goods as ‘made in’ Morocco is not misleading, and is consistent with European trade agreements.”

But wait, there’s so much more: European courts have already examined and rejected the EU Commission’s notion about extending “consumer protection” to shoppers deciding whether or not to buy Israeli products. “Just last year, the British Supreme Court ruled, in a case involving Ahava beauty products produced in the West Bank, that ‘there was no basis for saying that the average consumer would be misled’ by a ‘Made in Israel’ label.” Just as the EU decided in the case of Moroccon product from occupied Western Sahara, so did the UK court hold that the labeling “was not deceptive as a matter of both British and European Union law,” Kontorovich states.

“The problem is not that the European Union fails to live up to its standards in some cases, like that of Morocco,” he argues, “Rather, in these other cases the union explicitly denies the existence of these standards.”

This, in Kontorovich’s opinion, “is a legal violation in its own right. The European Union’s foundational treaties require regulatory ‘consistency.’ And discrimination against trading partners represents a core violation of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade and other treaties of the World Trade Organization.”

How should the US respond to this obvious violation of the EU’s own trade laws, never mind the international trade agreements to which the EU is a signatory?

On Wednesday, Mark C. Toner, US State Department Deputy Spokesperson told reporters: “We understand the objective is to provide EU consumers correct information on the origin of products, as required by EU law. … The EU has made clear that measures are not a boycott, and the EU has also made very clear that they oppose boycotts against Israel. EU guidelines for products that are sold in EU countries are for the EU to determine.”

Not true, writes Kontorovich, who believes “the European Union labeling threatens to establish a precedent that would allow politicization of the system, undermining United States economic interests in broad and unpredictable ways. Thus it is not surprising that earlier this year, the United States passed a law opposing such European Union measures against Israel.”

Indeed, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) in late June introduced Amendment 20 into President Obama’s Fast Track bill, which reads:

A) IN GENERAL.—With respect to an agreement that is proposed to be entered into with the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership countries and to which section 103(b) will apply, the principal negotiating objectives of the United States regarding commercial partnerships are the following:
(i) To discourage actions by potential trading partners that directly or indirectly prejudice or otherwise discourage commercial activity solely between the United States and Israel.

(ii) To discourage politically motivated actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel and to seek the elimination of politically motivated nontariff barriers on Israeli goods, services, or other commerce imposed on the State of Israel.

(iii) To seek the elimination of state-sponsored unsanctioned foreign boycotts against Israel or compliance with the Arab League Boycott of Israel by prospective trading partners.

(B) DEFINITION.—In this paragraph, the term “actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.

In reading both Kontorovich’s well founded opinion, and the Cardin amendment, it appears that the EU Commission’s ruling is actionable, both in the US and in Europe.

Israel’s Pres. Rivlin Cancels State Visit to EU

Friday, November 13th, 2015

President Reuven Rivlin has canceled his long-scheduled visit to speak at a session of the European Union parliament, set for December 2, after anti-Israel labeling guidelines were published Wednesday by the EU.

The invitation, extended as far back as March of this year, included a meeting with EU officials at the body’s headquarters in Brussels.

EU Ambassador to Israel Lars Faaborg-Andersen was informed Thursday after being summoned to the foreign ministry that the trip was to be postponed. The ambassador was also told that Israel was suspending diplomatic dialogue with the EU in a number of European forums.

The President’s Residence has confirmed the trip was postponed but did not give a reason for the change.

It is believed the cancelation is part of Israel’s partial suspension of diplomatic dialogue with the European Union in the wake of its new labeling guidelines on goods produced by Jewish manufacturers in Judea and Samaria.

The new guidelines issued Wednesday ban farm goods and cosmetics produced in Judea and Samaria from bearing the label, “Made in Israel.” The European Union considers the existence of Jewish Israeli communities built in those regions following the 1967 Six Day War to be illegal under international law.

Israel vowed it would suspend bilateral dialogue with the European Union over the matter, primarily in the areas of human rights and issues affecting its relationship with the Palestinian Authority. Bilateral dialogue in areas such as education, agriculture, science and culture are expected to continue, according to Foreign Ministry spokesperson Emanuel Nachshon.

Some Settlement Businesses See Potential Lemonade in EU Commission’s Lemons

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

(JNi.media) Tura, a family owned, boutique winery located in the village of Rehelim, in Samaria, produces 56 thousand bottles a year, 40% of which are shipped for export. According to winery owner Vered Ben Sa’adoun, the boycott movement against Jewish products from Judea and Samaria has achieved the opposite effect of the one intended: “For five months we were stuck without wine on the shelves thanks to [customers] who didn’t like the violence of the boycott movement,” she told Israel’s Channel 2 News Wednesday.

The EU Commission’s new regulations requiring member states to label products from the settlement stops short of actually making them illegal, and it has been argued that the regulations are not mandatory, meaning that individual states can decide to ignore them. But in all the discussion about the labeling requirement, it has been taken for granted that European consumers would shun products they know were made by Jews on the “wrong” side of the 1949 armistice line. Few have suggested that the European consumer’s sense of fair play, their admiration for the underdog and, yes, their general distaste for things pro-Islamic, might spell a boon for settlement-produced exports.

“The EU wants to boycott us, but I want to tell them that this boycott will not lead us [to any concessions],” said David Daniel, who owns beehives in the Jewish enclave in Hebron. “This attempt to harm us will not succeed. Our clients are very satisfied and happy with our products, and we are happy to market them to the world.”

PR firm Marketing Team Houston, actually recommends negative marketing to some of its clients, as a strategy to gain market share. “Be controversial,” they advise. “Nothing gets people buzzing like a little controversy. However, you’ll need to be prepared to manage the conversation – and the emotions that are sure to arise. … Choose a topic related to your brand that people are passionate about. When handled correctly, this negative marketing tactic can generate buzz and traffic.”

On February 7, 1962, President John F. Kennedy imposed a trade embargo on Cuba to sanction Fidel Castro’s communist government. As a result, until the ban has been lifted recently, in the US, authentic Cuban-made cigars were seen as “forbidden fruit” for Americans to wish to purchase at any cost. The boycott didn’t turn off anyone, it only made the product more desirable. Of course, it had to be a great product to start with—which is also the case with many settlement-grown and produced goods.

“We believe that we must fight back and call on all of Israel’s supporters around the world, Jews and non-Jews, to buy Israeli products,” said Jacob Berg, of the Psagot winery in Benjamin region. “The best way to fight this European boycott is let the numbers prove it, that a year from now we will sell 2 to 3 times more. If we cry and say it’s unfair, it’s racist, that won’t defeat them, because their goal is hurt the nation of Israel.”

Here are a few ideas we delineated from marketing websites and blogs that preach negative campaigns, most notably, hubspot.com:

1. Exclusionary Personas, the Other. The EU is siding with the Islamists you and I fear so much — show them the right way by purchasing settlements goods.

2. Leverage and Exclusivity. We may not be carried in all the stores, you may have to walk the extra mile and spend the extra five minutes to find our products — but it’s worth it, because they’re delicious. Remember the Cuban cigars? Make the settlement goods a Cuban cigar.

3. Come up with Negative Headlines. There’s a reason why you’re seeing more bad news than good — it’s the undeniable correlation between page views and negativity.

“The people who made this gadget are fearless Jews who guard all night and work all day. ”

“The man who baked this cake just shot a terrorist last night.”

“Taste our bananas and you, too, will want to settle here.”

4. Create a Bond Over a Shared Negative Experience. You think you got Muslims? You should see our Muslims. Here, have an apple cider.

5. Cast Villains. There’s no shortage of that — Arabs, faceless EU bureaucrats, far-left politicians. The Marxists in Brussels don’t want you to taste our grapes — they just ordered a container of them for themselves.

6. Self deprecation. If you don’t buy this Camembert, we’ll burn down this poor Palestinian’s olive grove. It acknowledges the anti-settlements myths and cuts across them with a joke.
Yesha Council, the umbrella body for the half-million plus Jews in Judea and Samaria, might consider this direction. They could call it chutzpah marketing.

Labor MK: Netanyahu Sold Out Settlements to the EU Long Before Product labeling

Thursday, November 12th, 2015

(JNi.media) MK Stav Shaffir (Zionist Camp, a.k.a. Labor) addressed the issue of product labeling, saying “the right-wing government has long ago sold out the settlements in exchange for a long list of economic benefits from the EU.”

Writing in a Wednesday night Facebook post, Shaffir, not a friend of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria, wrote: “In the coming days, you’ll be hearing Netanyahu government ministers and the Prime Minister himself crying in front of every open microphone: ‘Settlement products labeling?! Differentiating between products on the basis of their place of manufacturing?! How can those anti-Semitic Europeans imagine such a thing!’ The general hysteria, which has already begun today, will combine—as is traditionally accepted—as many references to the Holocaust as possible.”

“So Let me tell you something,” Shaffir continues, “The State of Israel is a signatory to a variety of agreements with the EU and international organizations. Economic, scientific and technological agreements, which include a clear legal distinction between sovereign Israel and the occupied territories. And the signatory to these agreements it is not Hitler nor his friend, the Mufti, but the Israeli government and its leader, Benjamin Netanyahu. Why? Because these agreements are worth tens of billions to the Israeli economy.”

Stav Shaffir is as close to a grassroots leader as you get in Israel. She gained national attention as one of the founders and organizers, and the unofficial leader of the summer of 2011 Israeli social justice protests, in which more than half a million Israelis took to the streets in huge, persistent public demonstrations. From that moment on, her rise was truly meteoric, elected to the Knesset on the Labor list at age 27, and then placing second in the January 2015 Labor primaries. Had the Zionist Camp won that 2015 election, Shaffir would have received a major government portfolio.

She writes on: “In short, just like the right-wing minister can ramble on all day long about how bad the Oslo accords are—but will never dare to cancel them and return our soldiers to the heart of the casbah in Palestinian cities, so it is in this case: nothing but shrieks and nonsense. The purest right-wing government we’ve had in years has long since sold out the settlements for a long list of economic benefits from the EU. What the European countries are doing now is to extend this ongoing, mutual understanding to the supermarket shelves.”

In a challenging tone, as befits an opposition MK and a populist leader, Shaffir concludes: “Incidentally, last week Acting Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely stated that the [EU Commission] new guidelines are [tantamount to] ‘a yellow star and delegitimization of Israel.’ If all that is true, then, in effect, the Israeli government — which has signed these agreements — is performing self-delegitimizing, and must eliminate those agreement as soon as possible, possibly tomorrow morning. Let’s see them doing it…”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/labor-mk-netanyahu-sold-out-settlements-to-the-eu-long-before-product-labeling/2015/11/12/

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